Role of the Icon in Salvation and Deification

The theophanic ministry of the icon and the restoration of souls

The theophanic ministry of the icon (as different from a religious painting) leads to the restoration and return of souls to their Creator and Father not just by its intrinsic beauty, which both leads in a mysterious manner to and transmits the beauty of Him Who is Other, but by drawing souls beyond the pale of this earthly plane to that of the heavenly plane through its epiphanic presence and direct participation in the divine light; the energeia of God. The icon is neither a sacrament as considered by some in the Eastern Church, nor is it just a sacramental as understood by the vast majority in the Western Church. The icon lies at the intersection of both, showing characteristics of sacraments and sacramentals, yet never attaining to the fullness of the former, while having more than the fullness of the latter. It is thus that the icon has been granted by God a unique place in the history and function of the liturgy, as well as the history of the salvation and deification of humankind.